In the daily carnage of today's Iraq, with bombs and shootings targeting the innocent, one is forgiven for feeling despair at the sheer wickedness and inhumanity of these deeds. In the midst of the misery and carnage, however, an act of heroism and sacrifice that shows the true face of Iraq has passed completely unreported by western media.
This concerns the suicide attack on Thursday 5 January that targeted Shia pilgrims in Nassiriya, southern Iraq, causing death or injury to over 100 people. The Arabic newspaper Alhayat (8 January) in a piece entitled "Heroes of Iraqi National Unity -- Two Soldiers Attempted to Stop a Suicide Bomber from Exploding Himself", its journalist, Abd-Alwahid Jumma, reports the incredible bravery of two members of the Iraqi army, Lieutenant Nuzhan Saleh Al-Jebouri and Sergeant Ali Ahmed Sabih, who, having witnessed someone moving amongst the pilgrims and acting suspiciously, ran towards the suspect, throwing themselves on him as he exploded his bomb, killing them instantly and causing the carnage.
The figures for the dead and injured could well have been higher if Nuzhan and Ali had not taken the initial force of the explosion. The two army personnel were Sunni Muslims from different parts of Iraq. They made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the Shia pilgrims. They acted instinctively to save fellow human beings; Shia or Sunni did not occur to them.
Western media have covered the story of the carnage and other stories of sectarian violence and intolerance in detail, so why ignore the heroism of the soldiers? These brave men are the true representatives of the Iraqi people. Their martyrdom symbolizes the unity of the people in the face of terrorists targeting the innocent, in the name of a warped and insane interpretation of the noble religion of Islam.
With their ultimate sacrifice, the two men have put self-serving Iraqi politicians to shame as they squabble, incapable of thinking or behaving outside their narrow self-interest, and ready to play the sectarian or ethnic card if it helps to consolidate their power base and interests.
The report describes how the people affected by the carnage suppressed their grief to praise the awesome actions of those brave soldiers. The town of Nassiriya, that is predominantly Shia, witnessed huge numbers attending the funeral procession to acknowledge the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers. One of the mourners commented: "If only politicians respected the blood of those brave soldiers and stopped deceiving the people by playing the sectarianism card for their own purposes". Iraqi politicians, please take heed; the people of Iraq are far more united and savvy than you think.
Wise leaders will use such a heroic, selfless act to unite the country and to promote cohesion between its people. Are Iraqi politicians wise and honest enough to do that? The people demand it and are crying out for honest leadership that puts the interests of Iraq above everything else. It is one thing for occupiers and foreign powers to use the maxim of "divide and rule"; it's quite another for Iraqi politicians to do the same. That will not be forgiven by the Iraqi people.
The actions of the brave soldiers encapsulate the story of the Iraqi people as they struggle against the forces of darkness, extremism and tyranny that are tearing the country apart. It is a heroic story, so why hasn't it been reported by western media?